Summer style at work: top tips for staying professional this summer

May 14, 2018
Whether it be an Irish Summer, or an uncharacteristically warm one, workwear is always a trickier topic as the temperatures rise and we feel under pressure to change up our look from our winter staples. This includes adding brighter colours and exploring new tailoring trends, which can cause just as much panic as potential.

To help with this dress code dilemma, here are my top tips for embracing summer style while staying professional:

  1. Compromise on colour, not fabric: Summer is all about lighter, brighter colours. This does not mean the same as lighter fabrics, and can be a sticking point for office wear. Silks and cottons are a yes; linen and chiffon, a no. Linens crease and chiffon requires an under-layer to make it office appropriate. Stick to weighted fabrics that sit well (we don’t have the temperatures to necessitate otherwise) including silks, polyblends, light wool and tailored cotton.
  2. Keep your fit formal: summer traditionally means lightweight and carefree. This works for casual wear, but not for office attire. Ensure the pieces you choose remain tailored. The change in seasons does not necessitate a loss of fit.
  3. Consider your purpose: similar to winter, consider the role and purpose of the clothes you purchase and subsequently wear. You want purchases that are classic, trans-seasonal and versatile. It is not cost effective to buy an outfit that only works when the temperatures top 20 degrees. Trans-seasonal pieces tend to be separates that can be worked together to form the basis of multiple looks.
  4. Decide on your base neutral: this is the colour that forms the basis of your workwear wardrobe. In winter, for most people, it’s black. As the summer approaches, many switch to navy or light grey. Consider how well this colour will go with the clothes you already own, and ensure that shoes, accessories, bags and shirts mix and blend well with the predominant colour of your summer work wardrobe.
  5. Update your accessories: this is the most cost effective way to update your workwear. Whether it’s investing in some statement necklaces in bright tones, or expanding your tie collection to refresh existing suits, paying attention to pops of colour in your daily look allows winter basics and suits to transition nicely to the spring/summer season.
  6. Should you show more skin? In a word, no. Summer office dressing simply means brighter colours in lighter (not lightweight) fabrics. Bare legs may replace tights when skirts fall to the knee or below; if higher when seated, stick with tan tights. Warm offices can necessitate sleeveless silk tops and rolled up sleeves, however, it may be helpful to bring a jacket for meetings, which can be removed shortly upon commencing, but should be worn for arrival.
  7. Are summer suits worth the investment? This links back to my first tip. Summer suits are often reduced in sales and can seem like a bargain. Unless you are travelling to Europe for work during the summer months, there is little need for a lightweight suit. They tend to crease and require delicate handling in the cleaners. If investing for the new season, choose a navy tone and consider a shirt in a high thread count, accompanied by a colour pop tie.
  8. Shoes: This can be covered off in one general statement: toes should not be visible in an office environment! Similarly, canvas shoes are too casual, as are any styles that are not anchored to the feet (non-fitted mules, sandals, etc).
Laura Jordan is a style, brand consultant and founder of www.StyleSavvy.ie.